Sunday, July 25, 2010


There has been a lot of baby talk at our house lately. My brother, Matt and his family were just blessed with a sweet baby a few weeks ago. I love hearing my brother and my sister-in-law share how much they love being able to say "girls" now when referring for this children. I also love how families can be created in so many different ways.
Sofia and Lizzie Jane

Then to top that off my sister Emily (who is at this minute on her way driving to my house to be my neighbor--YeeHaw!!!) had a precious little girl two weeks ago. Emily and her husband are just smitten with their girls too.

Sage and Mila Naomi

Then five day ago a dear friend gave birth to her fifth child. I felt like a stalker as I kept calling for updates on the labor. I had the privilege this week of snuggling up with sweet baby Eli just days old. Yesterday Birch and I went to do a little photo shoot to capture some of that sweetness that was just shared with us from God. They turned out so precious!
Eli Leon

So with all this baby talk I am not surprised how much of Chloe's life recently has been revolving around her baby doll. Yesterday night it was 10 pm and she was still awake reading her baby stories. Then after church today she spent a good fifteen minutes changing her baby's diaper and doing such a good job at getting all those poopies off.

All this baby talk is getting me excited for my little sister Laura to give birth to her first child early September and to meet Birch's sister's baby that is due any moment (actually many moments ago). Babies Are A Gift From God. I'm grateful for my six babies (and I feel quite complete--this is not an announcement)!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Beaming with Pride

Twelve years ago I was laying on the couch with a really sore bum, emotional, and feeling the most love that I had ever known. Alex was born just four weeks after I graduated from Oregon State University. It was a transitional time for our family with preparing to move four weeks later to Montana for Birch to attend Physical Therapy graduate school.

My labor was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life; I thought (and wanted) to die several times during it (I had not be enlightened on God's invention of the epidural with this labor). In the end Alex was vacuumed out and minutes later the nurse said, "He has a weird ear." I was thinking after so much work and now he has a weird ear? I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and certainly inexperienced in motherhood.

We brought home Alex to our stuffy hot apartment and wondered what to do next. Could he hear? Would kids make fun of him? Was his ear like this because I snuck on that Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland when I was four months pregnant with Alex?
Zip forward twelve years and I am now standing next to a boy that is turning into a young man. Alex loves to point out to me that he is almost as tall as me and we wear almost the same size shoes and will be going to Junior High this school year. Alex has shown bravery time after time as he has undergone reconstructive outer and inner ear surgeries. He is kind to his siblings, smarter than his mommy, athletic, and all around a great kid.
Alex received several gifts this year that will benefit him in all his scouting years ahead of him. He also got a big bottle of Nutella which he has been savoring.
What did he wish for?? I heard him say today that he wished he had underarm hair.

We are so proud to be Alex's parents! This is a big birthday for Alex as he will now be attending boy scouts and youth group each week. Even more important this year is that he will receive the aaronic priesthood. Alex will now have the opportunity to pass the sacrament on Sundays. He is anxious to fulfill his duties to God. I'm so thankful that his relationship with God is such a high priority to Alex.

Love this kid!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A little slice of a sunny heaven...

Last week I either turned crazy or super brave. My very persuasive sister-in-law Annie convinced me that it wouldn't be too scary or too long to drive six kids four and half hours to the lake by myself. Our family has had the awesome privileged of going to Lake Cavanaugh (just north of Seattle) for the past several years. Annie's grandparents own the cabin and have allowed us to make some great memories and family bonding time each summer as we all meet there for a few days.

This summer the calendar just wasn't going to allow us to join the family at the lake. Between needing to work and all of our other family stuff going on Birch wasn't going to be able to get the time off of work to come up for a long weekend. I had just told the kids the week before that we were not going to be able to go this year and boy did I hear some major booing. A couple of days later Annie called and suggested that we caravan together to the lake--you know two moms and eleven kids busting a move. Birch's sister Blayre said that she would drive Birch up Friday night to the lake after work so that way I didn't have to drive home all by myself.

So Wednesday morning last week I loaded up a whole heck of a lot of food, some swimsuits, and a bunch of excited kids, and one scared mom and hit the road. Surprisingly I only hyperventilated a couple of times on my way to Seattle when I was squished between the road mediums and a big semi truck. Following Annie made a huge difference and gave me the extra confidence that I needed (remember this would be my fourth time in the past two years driving the freeway).

We arrived at the lake late afternoon. The kids helped unload the car for about twenty seconds (until they found their swimsuits) and then they all ran to lake. This year lasso golf was introduced to the family. Alex loved playing with his uncles. Chloe loved digging in the rocky sand, going on the boat, eating her food outside...but most of all she loved buckling up ALL the life jackets that she found laying around. Every little bit she would come to me dragging a couple of life jackets saying, "Buck Buck." Meaning, "can you please unbuckle these life jackets so I can buckled them over and over and over again." This year it seemed that all the neighboring cabins has dogs with them. Chloe was in heaven!!! She was always outside calling to a dog and then loved throwing sticks or tennis balls for them to fetch. Alysee was a little fish this year. She loved spending every waking minute with her cousin Malia. Alysee also LOVED going in the boat this year. She spent hours tubing with all her cousins. Two years ago Alex tried unsuccessfully to water ski. He decided that this was the year. Logan, Birch's brother took Alex out to give him some tips. First try...BAM, Alex was up and loving it!!! Here's the proud first time waterskiier. These old skis have a rope between them which I think really helped him pop up and have such a great experience. Alysee posing in the beloved hot tub. The kids actually spent a lot more time in the lake this year than the hot tub (don't get me wrong they spent HOURS in the hot tub too). Alex LOVED tubing this year! All the younger cousins wanted a turn to ride with him. Coop had been SO excited to be at the lake. The first night we were there and I put him to bed he told me that he thought he was sick. I didn't really pay attention to him since he had been playing so hard all day. But sure enough by the next morning he had a fever and was pretty lethargic. He perked up by lunch time and enjoyed playing most of the day. The second morning he felt sick he actually woke up for breakfast and then crawled back in bed until 11:45 am. CRAZY!!! I felt sad for him since he had been so anxious to be at the lake and then couldn't fully enjoy his time. Luckily his illness only last a couple of days and he really lived it up the rest of the time. I thought this was so cute how Nate was holding Chloe's hand on her first time on the boat. He didn't want her to be scared. Too much sun and water time?? about relaxing and watching a mid day movie. Truly spoiled!!! Alex really seemed to want to be more grown up on this trip...water skiing, crazy tubing, baby is growing up. This little wet suit/floaty thing looks so funny on Chloe. As usual all the kids claimed a wet suit right when we got to the lake and would lay it out on the floor next to their bed each night. Nate was really into jumping off the dock this year. Nate also spent a lot of time tubing--kind of funny because from his facial expressions you could never tell that he was having fun. Tyler was a crazy tuber!!! Alex, cousin Addy, Nate, and Tyler going for a little paddle boat ride. Finally late Friday night Birch arrived to the was so nice to be together as a family. Birch and Tyler had a rockin' waverunner ride. Two lovebirds together again! (Yes, my lips had begun to swell at this time and yes, I added red to my hair.) When not fixing food for the tribe, you could find me laying on the lounge chair reading. I read a great book by one of my new favorite authors, Karen Kingsbury. Alex was SO EXCITED to show Birch that he could now water ski. I love this picture of Birch expressing his pride of Alex with his big thumbs up. Coop was scared to do anything around the water this year. He didn't go in the hot tub and refused to go tubing. Finally on the last day we convinced him to go with daddy on a really slow ride. We sure loaded up those tubes! Coop liked his ride okay but he was happy to get back on the boat. I was proud of him for trying. This is where Coop would choose to be all day--in the boat feeling the cool water on his fingertips. Can't go to the lake with all the brothers without playing "Jump off the dock and try to catch a football or frisbee" game. It seems to entertain these boys/daddy's for hours. This was Alex's first year joining in on the game.

We're all getting our second set of skin right now after sunburning our bodies. It felt so good to really get some good sunshine, though.

Thanks Annie for encouraging me to be so brave!! We all had such a great time and can't wait until next year!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Extreme Makeover

Recently our home had a little exterior home make over. Not the fun kind that anyone else notices but the kind that keeps you feeling all safe and sound. We got a new roof!!! When we bought our house we knew we had about three to five years left on the roof. Well, we maxed out the whole five years and thought we better not risk a roof leak. We already experienced water damage once this year...and that is enough for us for a lifetime.

The picture doesn't adequately show all the roof damage. Our roof was actually part of a class action lawsuit against the manufacturing company. The settlement closed a couple of years ago and we came out with about $300.00. Oh yeah! Anyway, after each wind storm we would find more shingles on the ground and more curling away on the roof.

We went with Certainteed Black Walnut 30 year shingles. Before we chose the style and color Birch and I spent a lot of time picking out what we want to have the house painted like next year. That was way more fun then choosing the roof color. Now I'm just itchin' to have the house painted. The trim work that is peeling stands out so much more that the roof is so crisp and dark. Patience...
It was amazing how fast the roofers worked at stripping down the house and then three days later having a completed whole new roof.

I also experience a little EXTREME MAKEOVER myself this past weekend. I took the kids up to my sister-in-law's lake house near Seattle this past week. We soaked in the sun for HOURS. I got really burned the first day so the rest of the week I was pretty careful. My lips were especially dry so I kept applying Eucerin to them. By Friday I could tell that my lips were feeling a bit swollen. Saturday they were noticeably larger than normal.

Then Sunday morning I woke up to these puppies:

Don't even think I am puckering out that bottom lip. That is all real!
I could see my bottom lip by looking down. I've always been generously endowed (in the lips department) but this was overboard. One of Birch's brother's suggested that I might need a permit to walk around.
No kidding...I was a real treat to look at.

I'm thankful to say that after some prayers, ice, and lots of moisturizer I am just about back to normal. They went through a couple of days of blistering and pealing. I kept just thinking about how terrible it would be to be seriously burned.

Rest assured that I will never be standing in line for Botox!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lovin' God's Land

To celebrate the July 4th weekend we headed to the mountains. Initially when we got out of the car it was a bit crispy cold and it is possible that we might have expressed a bit of grumpiness to Birch (the motivator behind hiking for the day). It didn't take long though until we warmed up and started appreciating all of God's creations around us.
Family Picture on the Mesatchee Creek Trail

Chloe and Mommy stopping for a little water break.

Coop was in heaven the whole time and kept talking about how he is such a great scout leader. (check out those ears)
Chloe loved the snacks, riding in the backpack, throwing rocks in the river, and taking possession of her very own waterbottle.
We crossed several streams on our hike. The kids all love to throw rocks and sticks in the water.
Somehow we all manged to stay dry despite all the water we crossed.
After hiking about a mile and a half we same to a very large river to cross. We were a little unsure if we should attempt the crossing since we have several non-swimmers in the family. The water was so calm, though that the kids all felt excited to try their hand a log walking. This picture doesn't really show the true magnitude of what we accomplished--those logs we are standing on are laying in the deep water--meaning we were surrounded by water on both sides. Anyway, it was a cool feeling that we did this as a family. After we crossed the river we decided to head back to the car and make a quick dash for another waterfall not far from the road.
Here's Nate at Union Creek Waterfall. We didn't stay long as several kids instantly had to go the bathroom and were all dying of hunger.

We all came home exhausted, hungry, and thankful for living in this blessed land!